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The Great Kendo World Forums Debate

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  • The Great Kendo World Forums Debate

    The Kendo World Forums have been an integral part of KWs identity since its inception. Before the age of YouTube and Facebook, and back when there was much less material available, both online and in print, the forums were the heart of a vibrant international martial arts community. It was a place where those of us practising in far-flung corners of the world were able to meet like-minded people from a variety of backgrounds and exchange ideas on Japanese martial arts history, philosophy, and events.

    Unfortunately, in this new age, the relevancy of the forums has been decreasing, and this is partly our own fault as we havent been engaging as much as we should with our members. Weve also experienced some technical difficulties. About four years ago the homepage and forums were hacked and we irretrievably lost a great deal of posts. That, coupled with an alleged forum upgrade that ended up causing more problems than improving the service, saw many people leave the forums and not come back.

    Nevertheless, with so many new sources of information and decreasing forum engagement, it has become an open debate among the KW staff about what we should do. We currently still spend time on administrative tasks relating to the forums, as well as paying a substantial amount for a premium level forum service. We think that by shifting resources from maintaining the current forums, we can promote other Kendo World activities that would be more useful to the global Japanese martial arts community.

    Having said that, the forums are incredibly important to us. They are still a treasure trove of information on Japanese martial arts, a history of the evolution of the international martial arts community, and the history of Kendo World itself, and it is very important to us that they are preserved. With all this in mind, we are looking for a new option.

    Before we even consider what direction to take, we want to make it clear what our priorities are with this project.
    1. Preserve the data in the current forums, as it is a treasure trove of information.
    2. Save time and money off of our current premium hosted forums plan so we can shift that elsewhere.
    3. Keep the information in the forums searchable and available for future reference.
    4. Rebuild a vibrant Kendo World community in some other way that preserves the open discussion and spirit of the original forums.
    We dont know if we can accomplish all of these, but any alternative we do take must tick off the boxes in the order above.

    So what exactly are we considering? Well, thats what wed like to ask you! Weve tossed around a few ideas.
    • Move the forums to a lower-tier hosting service
    • Disable forum functionality and preserve it as a series of static pages
    • Create a Facebook Group or a Google Plus group
    • Migrate to a stack exchange or reddit-style forum
    • TBD?
    So whats the best option? We dont know. In fact, were not even sure if #4, a revitalised KW community, is even a realistic possibility these days. So what do you think? Let us know.

    http://www.kendo-world.com/wordpress/?p=2355

  • #2
    I find the current version of KWF hard to use, rather buggy (I'm never quite sure that 'Post Reply' actually has worked), and it has a lot of features I have no intention of using.

    Migrating to Stack Exchange might be a good idea. One of the features that I love there is that topics can be closed out if someone has asked a question before (with a redirect to the relevant page, of course).

    Migrating to Reddit might be problematic because there already is a kendo subreddit on kendo and you'd have to figure out how to merge the two, or whether to keep two competing subreddits.

    Facebook or GPlus are tough to navigate, IMO.

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    • #3
      I don't like Reddit as a serious conversation place. Things fall off the front too soon and are forgotten, it's not very searchable. I'd prefer the cheaper forum option. I'm hopeful that if we could settle on something that simply worked well, that we could regain at least a few people. We could get the word out through other media; "hey, KW has been moved to a better platform".

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      • #4
        I like the idea of either moving to a cheaper forum, or a facebook page. With a facebook page ot would also make it easier for individual members to message each other if they so wish. I've found that the inbox on here is less than user friendly when people have sent me advice or vice versa.

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        • #5
          I think the simpler/cheaper Forum or Facebook page would be best Each has their own plus and minus. In the forum it is nice to be able to track some topics and not others in a thread based forum, Facebook not so good at that. I definitely support keeping the forum as an active archive that is searchable (but static). For me when the forum software was changed it never worked as well in any of the subsequent 'upgrades'. That and the long absence of a functioning forum at all were the point where activity fell off a cliff. If you are able to come to a well functioning forum that is easy to use, and with enough features to make it operate well, the audience and [participation will eventually come back.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by MikeW View Post
            If you are able to come to a well functioning forum that is easy to use, and with enough features to make it operate well, the audience and [participation will eventually come back.
            I wish I could agree with this statement but if one looks at other JSA forums (e.g. e-budo) activity has dropped off there too without the technical problems. My feeling is (as mentioned by others before in past threads here) that communications have moved away from the forum format.

            It's a pity because forums like KWF are akin to public squares while FB are like shopping malls (that include a cineplex, amusement park, restaurant village, etc.) with large chunks of the mall requiring membership for access. It's not a perfect analogy of course as KWF is not technically public space (it's still run by a private company) but it comes closer to that model than walled garden providers like FB & G+.

            So here we are standing in what was once a proud city square but now everyone is over at the mega-mall.

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            • #7
              I couldn't agree more with Dillon. It's unfortunate, but I feel KWF had it's run. No one seems to post anymore, maybe because there's so much content there's no point. Anyway, it was a good run.

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              • #8
                Yeah, this was kind of like when people moved off iaido-l to KWF. Same deal.

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                • #9
                  That actually reminds me...what will happen to the PM function?

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                  • #10
                    I think to many this post did not come as a surprise. The forum hasn't been nearly as active as a few years ago. It would truly be great loss when/if the forum would stop existing altogether. The "upgrading", lengthy downtime, the inability to process certain punctuation, the slow(invalid) server responses/slow interface have kept me from posting and visiting the forum. Even while making this post I got several error messages.

                    I do hope that this forum stays around in one way or the other and that posting will remain possible without having or having to log in to a facebook account.I would prefer either downgrading the forum to a fast and usable alternative or a reddit style forum. A good working website is severely underrated these days I rarely use facebook and wouldn't want to be forced to have to to be apart of a conversation.

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                    • #11
                      I also enjoyed the forums and I think having some of the most frequently asked questions especially about looking to visit dojos in other countries is helpful. I like most people just stopped visiting as I think there just became too much media overload and the rise of facebook. Plus almost everyone seems to have something to post on youtube kendo related nowadays.

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                      • #12
                        Tried to think of something interesting to post here. Couldn't think of anything: that is essentially the summary of the last years of the KWF. Not much content to discuss and I'm not willing to start discussions either. It's too bad, this was a good resource: Good place to find dojo and events (I never would have known that the World Naginata Championship was being held in Montreal if not for KWF).

                        I have no suggestions other than to say that it is easier to comment on existing, detailed content rather than creating it from scratch (duh!). There is no option to comment on KW magazine articles, which is a typical option on new sites and magazines. Then again, "comments" sections are typically veritable ranting shit shows...

                        Good luck on finding out what to do.

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                        • #13
                          Unfortunately, I felt that there were more than a few old-timers on KWF that took pleasure in talking down towards what they perceive to be stupid questions or comments. For me at least in my earlier years on here it had a chilling effect so I went into lurk mode for a while. Some of these old-timers (some with twice as many or more kendo years as I) still pop in occassionally for a snide unhelpful blurt (at least stick around long enough for an exchange... sheesh).

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